I never played sports in high school, Lubbock High. I was never coordinated enough to play basketball. I didn't like football because I hated getting beat up. I had enough of getting beat up or getting "roughed up" just by growing up in "El Barrio". And my eye-hand coordination was awful to enjoy playing baseball.
Soccer, the only sport I did want to play, following the Hispanic/family tradition of the love for the sport, my parents did not want me to waste time on it. Somehow, I found cycling but I didn't begin cycling until around 1986/1987.
My first bike was a 10-speed Huffy, a 50 pound carbon steel bike. I lived in El Barrio de Arnette Benson, in Lubbock. El Barrio was prediminately Mexican-American (like 99% +), prediminately lower income. I never had enough money as I was paying my way through college, Texas Tech University, but I saved enough money to buy a better bike. My second bike was a Centurion LeMans LS that I bought off my older brother, it was brown. The bike was oversized, for my height, but I didn't know that until later. Later, I traded/swapped bikes with my other brother who wanted a bike in his favorite color, brown. My third bike was another Centurion, black frame, and this bike was the right size for me, even the color black with the lettering in silver and fushia/pink.
My first bike rides were not far from home, approximately 8 to 10 miles, maybe 20 miles at most. But between college, work and homework, I barely had any time left to put more time cycling. But I used it as therapy. It was definetly a the right sport since it would get me out of my parents house, which at times was very tense, and cycling provided me the solitude I needed to strategize and figure things out.
My last semester at Tech, I had a bike/auto collision with a vehicle that ran the stop sign and my bike was totalled. That was September 3, 1989, my last semester at Texas Tech, maybe. I spent Labor Day Weekend and the following Tuesday at Lubbock's Health Science Center, hospital. On my arrival, I was put in an Intensive care unit as the medical stafff did not know the condition of my spine. They feard one of the first 7 bones might be cracked or broken which if the condition of the bone somehow injured my spine tissue I had the potential to be handicapped. Their CAT Scan machine was not working the day the ambulance took me to the hospital, they had no choice but to put me in intensive care until the machine was fixed. (I was advised on both my medical condition, when I regained conciousness, and the equipment failure ... all to make a long story short ... I couldn't get up and leave; I was destined to stay in intensive care and wait for the machine to be fixed.) After 24 hours, the machine was fixed, my backbones were scanned, and the analysis reviewed by a neurosurgeon. Fortunately, all I suffered was a concussion, a broken molar, about 30 stiches, broken glass and a hell of a headache. (But I was determined to graduate that semester and I did, Dec '88.)
I resumed riding when I moved down to Lake Jackson to work for Phillips 66. I bought a brand new Raleigh Technium, 1988 vintage, I didn't want to spend too much in case I could not face cycling any longer as a resulto of my accident. It had the works! A cyclo-computer, two water bottle cages and somebody wanting to ride it (maybe a little nervous at first, but willing).
I began riding with the Brazosport Pedalers, in Lake Jackson, and realized I had lots of riding technique to learn and lots of riding fitness to acquire. For one thing, Lake Jackson was a lot more humid than Lubbock, TX, and at first I felt like I needed gills to get the oxygen I needed to keep up with the pack. But I managed and eventually became a better cyclist. Sometime at the end of 1989, I began tracking my miles.
In 1990, I gave in and I ventured to do an organized bike rides.
My first organized bike ride was "City to Shore", a 100k bike ride starting at the downtown YMCA, in Houston, and finishing at the Railroad Museum in Galveston. The ride was fun except for that fact that somehow we couldn't cross the cause-way, the bridge between the mainland and Galveston Island. The bike organizers blamed the aurthorities and the authorities holding us back blamed the organizers for not having contacted them (as if they were implying that the organizers had recieved the consent to cross the bridge from the wrong authority, jurisdiction). After about 30 to 45 minutes, the authorities ceded to let us cross the bridge and I finished the ride successfully.
Then, more rides came along. While in TX, I participated in ... Tour of the Winds, in Amarillo, Katy Flatland, in Katy, CrossRoads Classic, in Sealy, Bragg Tour/Cookie Chase, Victoria, SIDS 100, Lake Jackson, Moonlight Ramble, in Houston, Columbus Bike Ride, in Columbus, Tour De Braz, in Alvin, Tour De Cypress, in Nothwest Houston, and the Blue Bonnett Ride, in Hempstead, TX. I completed several centuries in several of these rides, I even completed a double metric (114 mile bike ride), in Rosenburg, TX .
Not satisfied, I began doing tours. The Hill Country Tour was one of the first, thou we got rained 2 out of the 3-day weekend.
To date, I have completed 6 MS-150 rides. Five of the MS-150s were in TX, the Houston to Austin ride. This MS-150 ride is more like 175 mile tour with a Century ride on the first day followed by a 75+ mile ride on the second day. The sixth MS-150 ride I have completed was in VA, in 2002. The MS-150 from Charlottesville to Farmville is a true 150 mile bike ride, 75 miles one way to Farmville and 75 miles back to Cville.
The ultimate/longest tour I've completed is the First Annual Texas AIDS Ride, Austin to Houston to Dallas in 7 Days and 540 miles of cycling.
My normal cycling mileage per year varies from 1,500 miles to about 2,000 miles. At first, the limiting factor was the tolerance to cycle in the sun. By the end of each summer, my skin reaches the darkest tan my body can produce for self protection before the sun rays start to burn. Then came running. As I became a better runner, running began demanding more training time to keep my running endurance. Now, the weekends are way too short to do the training I want to do, cycling and running.